Nursing Home Negligence

Failure to Provide Proper Care to Elderly Patients & Residents

Not all mistreatment in nursing homes stems from intentional wrongdoing such as physical or sexual abuse. In some cases, negligence (a failure to provide proper care) can be just as harmful as nursing home abuse. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have an obligation to their residents and patients to provide a standard level of care, proper nutrition and prompt medical treatment or access to medical help when they need it. Any act or failure to act that constitutes substandard care may be considered negligence, and this can have serious consequences.

An elderly patient who has suffered as the result of nursing home negligence may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages he or she has sustained. Taking legal action against the nursing home or negligent caregiver can also increase awareness of dangerous conditions in nursing homes and can help ensure the mistreatment no longer occurs.

About Negligence
The basic definition of negligence is a failure to take proper care or to take reasonable care in doing something. When this results in injury to another person, the individual or organization that committed the negligent act may be held legally accountable. Legal proceedings of this kind are handled in civil court and may enable the injured party to seek financial damages that will cover medical care, lost earnings and possibly much more.

Bedsores, also referred to as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are serious injuries to the skin and underlying tissue that are caused by prolonged pressure on the skin. They occur most frequently on bony areas of the body and are particularly common in patients who are bedridden or restricted to a wheelchair. Bedsores may be a sign of nursing home negligence, as caregivers should take care to change the body position of patients on a regular basis in order to prevent these sores from developing in the first place.

Improper Hygiene
One of the key parts of the care provided at nursing homes relates to cleanliness. Nursing homes should provide patients with the facilities and supplies they need to keep themselves clean and should provide services to patients who are unable to properly care for themselves. This may include bathing, cleaning as well as a clean living space. Improper hygiene can lead to serious health problems.

Improper Medical Care
Depending on the designated medical services they provide, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have an obligation to provide a standard level of medical care. This may be limited to administering medication to a patient or resident or may include a full range of medical treatment. It may also include helping an elderly resident receive emergency medical care when needed, even if from an outside source. Improper medical care or delayed medical treatment may lead to serious injuries or even the wrongful death of a patient.

Malnutrition is a possible result of nursing home negligence and occurs when an elderly patient or resident is not receiving proper nutrition, whether through food or vitamin supplements. Some older adults may have physical issues related to chewing, swallowing and digesting food, and their bodies may have a diminished ability to absorb the nutrients they do consume. Nursing homes should take proper measures to ensure residents and patients receive the nutrition they need.

Medication Errors
Administering the wrong medication, overmedication or administering the wrong dose are all examples of possible medication errors that may occur in nursing homes. If you or someone you love has suffered serious side effects or injuries from this type of nursing home negligence, it is important to consider your legal options. You may be able to sue the nursing home and file a formal complaint to have the matter resolved.

Poor Supervision
Properly caring for a nursing home patient or an elderly resident at an assisted living facility includes supervision. Elderly residents and patients, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer's or similar medical conditions, may have a tendency to wander. If they are not properly supervised, they may get lost or injured. Proper supervision may also include regularly checking in on patients to ensure their well-being.

Signs of Nursing Home Negligence
Being aware of the warning signs of nursing home negligence can help you take action before it's too late. It can also help you select the right nursing home in the first place and can ensure that you know what to look for so you can take immediate action to protect your elderly loved ones. Some potential signs may include: withdrawal, depression, prolonged and unexplained illness, poor hygiene, weight loss, bedsores and sudden, unexplained changes in behavior or health.

Have you recognized signs of nursing home negligence? What to do.

If you believe you have observed signs of nursing home negligence, it is important to move quickly. Do not hesitate to look further into the matter, discuss the situation with the nursing home staff and report the incident to the proper authority. Seeking legal counsel may also be helpful, particularly if your initial efforts have had little to no result. An attorney who is experienced in handling nursing home negligence claims can help you seek financial compensation for your loved one's injuries and can even play a key role in getting your loved one moved to another facility or improving the conditions at the facility where they currently are.

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